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Antarctic Peninsula
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Antarctic Peninsula

May 12, 2012
Clear, sunny skies greeted the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite as it passed over the Antarctic Peninsula on April 24, 2012, allowing it to capture this bright true-color image of the region. Not only were the skies clear on that day, but it was warm. According to data gathered by the Automated Met-Ice-Geophysics Observations System (AMIGOS) stations situated in the area, strong westerly winds prevailed and the temperatures rose to well above freezing.

The rugged, mountainous arc of Graham Land, the northernmost tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, can be found in the lower right corner of the image, stretching northeast to the center of the image. The Southern Ocean, which appears inky black, lies to the north and west of Graham Land. Clouds cover the ocean and in some places the clouds are aligned in parallel streets, especially where the wind blows over ice-covered islands west of the mainland.

The northernmost edge of the Larson Ice Shelf hugs the Peninsula in the lower left corner of the image, and appears bright blue-white. At the edge of the ice shelf, cracks and ripples appear in the fast ice covering the sea. In the lower right section of the image, bright white clouds cast gray shadows over the sea ice.

Although the recent weeks have been warm, the summer has not been abnormally hot. Clear evidence of this is seen in the fast ice, which remains relatively intact at the end of the warm season. April is fall in the southern hemisphere, and cooling will soon cause the fast ice to thicken once again as the frigid winter sets in.

Credits: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC


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